A motion calling on co-operators to explore the potential of platform co-operatives was passed at the Alliance’s General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 17 November.
Introduced by Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK and board member of Cooperatives Europe, the motion noted that a new generation of businesses were emerging online. The General Assembly approved the resolution on the Platform Co-operatives unanimously by show of hands.
“A platform is just a way to facilitate trade on the Internet,” explained Mr Mayo. He gave the example of Stocksy, an artist-owned platform co-op that provides photos and videos to some of the world’s leading agencies and brands.
The motion also reaffirmed the call for social media platform Twitter to explore the case for co-operative ownership of the service over time. For more information on this subject read the article we wrote about the Collaborative Economy session organised in the framework of the International Co-operative Alliance Global Conference.
“We encourage co-operatives around the world to mobilise to support this and related actions, as a global movement to ensure that future digital businesses can be co-operative businesses,” read the motion sponsored by Co-operatives UK and the National Cooperative Business Association of the USA.
Mr Mayo added: “This motion is above all a recognition by today’s successful co-operatives worldwide of the value and the urgency of a new generation of co-operatives in the digital space. The promise of new technologies is to open up new space for participation, but unless we organise and unless we are open to the new, tomorrow’s businesses online will be uniformly investor-owned and exploitative. We will depend on those businesses, and they will take advantage of our dependence. The movement around platform co-operatives - which simply means co-operatives, new or old, in an online setting - is the great commercial challenge of our day.
"These new co-operatives may be global, and that means that we have to act globally to solve key issues, such as capital for development and partners for scaling up and across borders. We can’t be too slow - technology-led innovation happens at pace. We have to play to our strengths as a social movement and bring large co-ops and small together to explore and to partner the new. There is some great practice already underway and I would pay tribute to work in the USA and in Canada, as well as a number of European countries. Building on that, this motion is a call on the International Co-operative Alliance to be a proactive facilitator of tomorrow’s co-operative sector.”
Photo: Ed Mayo introducing the motion at the General Assembly in Malaysia